So You’ve found an issue you care deeply about. Maybe it’s affected you, someone you love or maybe it’s just something that troubles you. No matter the reason, it’s been keeping you up at night and it’s time someone did something about it. You know that someone could be you!
A social enterprise is kind of like a non-profit or charity, but with one key difference. Rather than collecting money from sponsors and donations, a social enterprise takes the same approach to making money as a business. That is, they sell a product or service and then spend their profits on the supporting a cause. Two brilliant examples of social enterprises you might have seen around are Grameen Bank and Green Savers.
If you’ve got an idea of what you might like to make or do, congratulations! You’re half way there. Here are our top 5 tips for turning that idea into a reality that can benefit humankind.
1: Accept that it’s ok to be scared
If the idea of starting a social enterprise scares you, that’s a good thing. Being scared is how you grow.
First step to bringing your social change idea to life is just telling people about it. Once it is out of your head and in to the world, it becomes a real, tangible thing. You will be amazed at the support you will receive and the doors that will open when people hear you speak passionately about your vision for a better world. I promise.
And then, if you still don’t believe you can do it, we are firm believers in faking it till you make it!
2: REALIZE that you cannot do it alone
Find yourself a team. Probably a small one at first. A team will bring ideas, networks, energy and inspiration and will also help you increase your impact. Find people that share your passion, who have different skills to your own and most importantly, find people you think you will love spending time with. Value their contribution, give them the freedom to be creative and have fun together.
If you are just starting out it is probably volunteers you are going to need and your friends are usually a good place to start.
3: Self determination is important
It is important to involve the people you are trying to help in what you are doing. They will understand the intricacies of the problem, will be able to provide you amazing insight on how to approach it and also have a right to determine how their own cultural, economic and social development is undertaken. Whether it is people seeking asylum, Indigenous Australians or those experiencing homelessness you are supporting, be sure to talk, listen to and involve them in your work.
4: You need a way of getting Funds
When you take the plunge and tell your friends, family and community about your new idea for social change they will be either very encouraging or very critical about your plan. There is a chance you may find money a little more difficult to come across and unfortunately, it is often a necessity for getting these things off the ground. Don’t worry, there are a few ways of going about it.
Fundraising events can also be a good starting point. Hosting a concert, a workshop or any other kind of event you can think of is a great excuse to get out there and tell everyone what you are doing as well as raise some funds. Just make sure you budget everything out and try to keep all your costs down. Always keep in the back of your mind while you organize, the main purpose is to raise you some money!
If you are just starting out you might find some of the big grants a bit tricky, but there are a few foundations out there that are just for young people. The ICT Innovation Fund is a great place to apply if your idea involves Technology. Just do a Google Search!
Once you have a small track record and gain some attention, you can apply for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Funds at top Private Companies, Banks and Financial Institutions. Just do some research on whether these companies work with non-profits first, before sending them a mail for a meeting!
The main thing with raising money is remembering not to ask for too much. If you keep doing things well your initiative will grow steadily as your reputation improves. You won’t have much success finding money if you are asking for huge amounts in the first instance. People need to see what you are doing works first, so start small.
5: Keep this learning going!
While this was a good start, there is a bit to this whole change maker thing. Good news is there are lots of programs out there designed to teach you everything under the sun about getting your social change initiative off the ground.
We firmly believe in the ‘learn by doing’ model. Mistakes are perfectly OK and no one can teach you as much as you will learn by just getting in there and doing it!